Correctional Services said that “matters are under control” at Johannesburg’s Sun City Prison on Wed.
In the case of Rennies Distribution Services (Pty) Ltd vs Bierman NO and Others, heard by the Labour Court, the court considered whether an appeal chair has the authority to impose a disciplinary sanction on an employee which is harsher than the sanction imposed on the employee in the original disciplinary hearing.
In this case, the Labour Court held that "an employee should be warned that the chairperson is contemplating increasing the sanction imposed by the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing and the employer should be granted the opportunity either to withdraw the appeal and accept the sanction imposed by the disciplinary hearing or present argument to the appeal hearing why the sanction should not be increased".
As such, if an employer wishes to impose a harsher sanction on an employee than the sanction which was imposed by the original disciplinary enquiry, the employer should -
l ensure its disciplinary code allows it to do so, and expressly states that the powers of an appeal chairperson shall include the power to impose a harsher sanction; and
l ensure that the employee is warned that a harsher sanction may be imposed if the appeal is lodged; and
l the chair must warn the employee that he is contemplating imposing a harsher sanction; and
l the employee must be provided with an opportunity to address the chairperson as to why the appeal sanction should be increased.
Employers must appreciate, however, that the appeal chair will not be able to impose a sanction which is not allowed by the employer's own disciplinary code.
For example, if the disciplinary code provides that the appropriate sanction for a first offence, in respect of a stated type of misconduct, is a written warning, then if a written warning is imposed and the employee appeals, the appeal chair can only confirm that this is the appropriate sanction, but not impose a harsher sanction.
Employees must also appreciate that there is no automatic right to an appeal provided for by law, and an employee will only be entitled to lodge an appeal against a sanction imposed by a disciplinary hearing, if the disciplinary code entitles him to do so. If there is no right to appeal, the employee can refer a dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.